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Showing posts with label Obedience. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Obedience. Show all posts

Monday, October 31, 2022

Don't Fall Away

Do you ever stop to review all God has done for you?  I have lived long enough now that it is quite easy to forget all the wonderful things Jesus has done for me.  It's not that I'm not grateful.  It's that there is just so much my brain is not big enough to consciously contain it all--unless I intentionally sit down and try to recall it.  As I do, I think of how Jesus saved me from a broken, abusive home and from poverty.  I remember how Jesus led me to the woman who would become my wife.  I recall how Jesus inspired me and my wife to get a college education, even though it was very difficult and we didn't have a lot of financial support from our families.  Then, Jesus called me to leave a promising career in engineering to enter the ministry, which was another great unknown and tremendously difficult.  Furthermore, Jesus somehow gave us the wisdom and energy to raise 3 brilliant kids, despite moving around from place to place and living on very little income.  I could go on and on about God's blessings to me and my family.  

How about you? What has God done for you? Some of you have survived strokes, heart attacks, and other devastating injuries.  I know someone who conquered cancer and gone on to be very active in my church.  Others have overcome, with God's help, substance abuse or other terribly difficult problems.  Some of survived losing a child or a spouse or someone else you love deeply, picked yourself back up after a divorce, or coped with mental illness.  We’ve all made it through COVID (so far); do you remember when the world shut down?  Here we are.  We are still alive and living, with God's help!  Let us give thanks for God is good!

This is the last blog in our series about conquering your fears. Through faith in Christ we can overcome our fears because God fights for us and we are not alone.  God is with us and the heroes of the Bible and even our loved ones who’ve died and gone to heaven cheer us on when we have faith in Christ.

We’ve been studying how the Israelites had to conquer their fears in order to enter the Promised Land.  The Israelites started out as slaves in Egypt.  God sent 10 plagues to force the Egyptians to let the Israelites go free.  Unfortunately, the Israelites were too afraid to enter the Pormised Land, so they were stuck wandering in the wilderness for forty years until Moses and all the original generation died (except for Joshua and Caleb).  Then Joshua became the new leader who led a new generation to conquer Jericho and the rest of Canaan.  

Now, as we come to our story for today, Joshua is an old man.  God has done all the major fighting for Israel.  Most of the unbelievers have been driven out of Canaan.  A few remain as a test of Israel’s faithfulness—to see if they will complete the work of driving out all the worshipers of false gods (or if they will be unfaithful to Yahweh, the God of Israel).  And now, Joshua is coming to the end of his life and he has some parting advice for his people. 

Joshua 23:6-13
“So be very careful to follow everything Moses wrote in the Book of Instruction. Do not deviate from it, turning either to the right or to the left. Make sure you do not associate with the other people still remaining in the land. Do not even mention the names of their gods, much less swear by them or serve them or worship them. Rather, cling tightly to the Lord your God as you have done until now.

“For the Lord has driven out great and powerful nations for you, and no one has yet been able to defeat you. 10 Each one of you will put to flight a thousand of the enemy, for the Lord your God fights for you, just as he has promised. 11 So be very careful to love the Lord your God.

“But if you turn away from him and cling to the customs of the survivors of these nations remaining among you, and if you intermarry with them, 13 then know for certain that the Lord your God will no longer drive them out of your land. Instead, they will be a snare and a trap to you, a whip for your backs and thorny brambles in your eyes, and you will vanish from this good land the Lord your God has given you.

Joshua’s 4 Pieces of Advice
Joshua gives the Israelites four pieces of advice:  
1.     Be Obedient.  2.     Be Faithful.  3.     Continue the Mission.  And 4.     Love the Lord your God.


Be Obedient

God wanted the Israelites to be obedient.  It’s important to point out that God’s grace came before His call to obedience.  In Exodus 1, the Israelites were slaves in Egypt.  Then God does amazing, miraculous things to deliver the Israelites:

He sent ten plagues on the Egyptians to force them to let the Israelites go.  Then God parting the Red Sea so Israel could cross the sea safely on dry ground.  Next God fed the Hebrews in the wilderness with mana from heaven and quail for meat and water in the desert.  

Now notice, all this happens before God gives Israel the Law.  Exodus chapters 1-19 is all about what God does for the Israelites.  It is not until Exodus 20 that God gives Israel the ten commandments and the rest of the Law.  You see, God’s grace and deliverance precedes the requirements He gives, even in the Old Testament.


The same is true for you.  God’s grace pursues you, woos you, encourages you, and invites you before you even spend a single second thinking about Him.  Then, when you realize you need God and you turn from your sin and turn to God through Jesus, God saves you and adopts you as His very own child.  Now, you are part of His family forever.  It is only after God has done all this that you don't deserve that God asks you to be faithful and obedient and act as a member of His royal family.


Be Faithful

God enabled Joshua and the Israelites to drive out the unbelieving Canaanites from the Holy Land, because the Canaanites had rejected the One True God for generations (for at least 400 years).  So now, God gave the land to the Israelites.  They were to be God’s royal priesthood who would represent God to the whole world.  They were to help all the nations return to God.  They had a special purpose. 

A few Canaanite settlements remained in the land.  They were there to test Israel’s faithfulness.  Would Israel be faithful to God?  Would they become bored with their devotion to God and become intrigued by the exotic foreign gods of the Canaanites who remained in the land?  Would they decide to hedge their bets?  (You know, let’s worship the God of Israel so He will be good to us, but let’s also worship the gods of the Canaanites just in case?)  God wanted Israel to be faithful to Him alone.

Unfortunately, Joshua 23:12 has been used to say God forbids intermarriage between different races or nations because it says, "if you turn away from him and cling to the customs of the survivors of these nations remaining among you, and if you intermarry with them, then know for certain that the Lord your God will no longer drive them out of your land."  God doesn't have a problem with intermarriage between people of different races.  It is intermarriage between believers and unbelievers that God discourages.  We know this is true because the clues are right there in the Scripture.  Caleb was the only other Israelite (besides Joshua) who left Egypt who was also honored to enter the Promised Land.  Caleb was not an ethnic Israelite. He was a Kenizzite (which were a Canaanites), yet Caleb married and had descendents who were accepted as Israelites who received allotments in the Holy Land.  Furthermore, Rahab was a Canaanite from Jericho. God saved her when she converted and worshiped the God of the Israelites.  Rehab married an Israelite named Salmon.  She became the great great grandmother mother of King David and one of the direct ancestors of Jesus. Rahab, a Canaanite prostitute, is listed in the New Testament as one of the great heroes of the Christian faith (Hebrews 11:31).  Intermarriage of different races wasn't the problem. Marrying people who worshipped false gods was the problem.  The person you marry is the person who has the greatest influence in your life.  Therefore, we should chose someone who shares our most important core values, which should be our devotion to God through Christ.

In this life, there are many things that will entice you away from God.  Be very, very careful that you remain faithful to God.  He is the only one worthy of your worship.  He must be the first priority of your life.  Do not turn away from Him for riches, for family, for power, for influence, for nation, for politics, for entertainment, for anything.


Continue the Mission

God chose the Israelites for a purpose.  He blessed them so that they could be a blessing.  God had already done the hard work of driving out most of the Canaanites.  All that was left was to mop up the few remaining groups.  This was certainly doable for the Israelites who now had a majority and who occupied the fortified cities of Canaan.  Unfortunately, they lost their focus on being the royal priests of God.  They turned their attention to their own personal pursuits—their families, income, and pleasure.  They forgot the mission of God.  Before long, this led to complacency and unfaithfulness.


Christians have a mission too.  We are to go into all the world and make disciples of Christ.  We are to teach people about the love and salvation of Christ and invite people to follow Him as Lord.  We are to baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  When we get distracted, we worry about all the other things in life.  The main mission of Christ becomes an after thought or no thought at all.  Our lives are about what makes us happy and soon we don’t even care about God at all, except that maybe He can be useful to give us what we want or help keep us from losing what we love.  Where are we then?  We've become like the Canaanites.  We are right back where we started—full of fear, feeling lost and alone.  

We must stay focused on the mission of God or we get lost once and consumed by our selfishness, fear, and depravity.


Love the Lord Your God

Joshua told the Israelites to love the Lord their God.  Jesus said the same thing.  He said the most important commandment was to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength.  And the second was like it:  Love your neighbor as yourself.  

Love is powerful.  Fear of punishment only goes so far.  It’s an immature and incomplete way of living.  God doesn’t want us to obey Him out of fear.  He wants us to obey because of love.  


How is it with your friends, your children, your spouse?  Do you want them to be faithful only because they’re afraid of what will happen or how you will react if they betray you?  No!  We want the people we love to be kind and faithful because they love us. Right?

God is the same way.  God has already loved you with the greatest love of all.  Romans 5:8 – “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”  God wants us to be obedient and faithful—not out of fear, but—out of love.  When you love someone, you try to the best of your ability to do what they want.  Most importantly, you do what they need (even if it's not what they want).  That's love.  

What Christ asks of us is not so difficult.  It is an easy burden to bear and one He helps us carry.  It is love.  Love God with all you are love your neighbor as you love yourself.  Is that so hard?  We are not asked to take up a sword and drive out Canaanite armies.  In America, thanks be to God, we are not even in danger of being tortured or killed for our faith as many other Christians are around the world. So can’t we be obedient and faithful and love?

As I close, I want to invite you to decide who you will follow.  Have you ever decided to follow Jesus as a Christian? If not, please do that today.  Ask God to forgive you for the ways you've turned your back on Him up until today.  Now make a commitment to follow Christ and ask Jesus to help you keep your commitment.  From this day on, seek to be obedient and faithful to God through Christ.  

Perhaps you are already a Christian.  Maybe you even became a Christian a long time ago.  Have you been faithful or have you drifted from the faith or from your commitment? If so, please chose to recommit your life to Jesus today.  God will forgive you for getting off track.  He will help you to make a fresh start if you ask Him.  So ask Him today.

Monday, June 25, 2018

When You Are Thankful, God is With You

            I want to finish the story of Daniel and the Lion's Den that I started last week.  It was a lonely night in the Lion's Den for Daniel.  However, last week I told you that when you are lonely, God is with you.  Now I want to share that when you are thankful, God is with you.  For my message at church yesterday, I thought it would be neat to hear the story from Daniel's perspective.  So, I did something different I've never done before.  I dressed up like Daniel and recalled the story from his perspective as if I were Daniel.  I figured, who better to talk about the importance of being thankful than the man himself whom God rescued from the lion's den.  So in this blog, I will share a transcript of what Daniel said (well, my fictional version of Daniel anyway).  But first, let's hear the actual account from Daniel 6:16-28.

Daniel 6:16-28
16 Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.
17 And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel.
18 Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of musick brought before him: and his sleep went from him.
19 Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions.
20 And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?
21 Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever.
22 My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.
23 Then was the king exceedingly glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.
24 And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den.
25 Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you.
26 I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end.
27 He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.

Daniel's Testimony
David was a very good king in my country.  He was not the king while I was alive.  He was king many years before I was born.  Most of the kings in my country were not very good.  I guess they get a lot of power and they just try to hold on to their power.  They do what they want.  And the people follow their lead and do what they want to do.  God was very clear.  Do not worship any God accept the Lord and do not make idols of any kind, but the people they still do it.  And so, uh, God sent prophets to warn us, "You shouldn't do this.  This is not a good way to live.  It will cause problems."   But the people won't listen.  They just didn't listen.  And so, God warned, "If you don't stop doing this, you are going to have a problem."  

And sure enough, when I was alive, when I was just a young man, a teenager, the Babylonian army, it comes to our country.  It kills many, many people.  It's terrible.  You can't understand how terrible it is.  And they capture our city and destroy it  And they even burn our temple to the ground.  It's terrible.  You cannot imagine.  And for me and some of my friends who were young and we had been educated, who were leaders, they take us into captivity back to Babylon.  

And uh, Babylon was a great place to live.  Beautiful place!  I mean, it was different from where I was, but they had so many big buildings and so much money and power.  So it wasn't so bad, but what we want to live is back in our home.  And our home was destroyed and it was very hard.  But God was with us.

You've heard the story...  You see, most people think that I was a young man when they threw me in the lion's den.  But no.  I was only sixteen when they took me to Babylon, but I lived there almost all my life.  And I was eighty-years-old when they threw me in the lion's den.  They say we can't pray to anyone but king Darius for thirty days.  And I know that is not right.  King Darius--I like king Darius, he was a good man, but he is not a god.  Why would I pray to him?  And so I pray only to God.  And they say, "You can only pray to king Darius."  And I say, "Well, what shall I do?" I am eighty-years-old.  They say they will throw you into the lion's den if you pray to God.  I always pray to God.  What shall I do?  I will only pray to God, because God has been good to me.  And I know God is for real and king Darius is only a man.  I knew that it was dangerous, but hey I'm eighty-years-old anyway so what are they gonna do?  So they come and arrest me and throw me in the lion's den.

As I go into the lion's den, I am ready.  I'm not afraid of death.  I'm afraid of the lions!  You know, I want to go to sleep and die in my sleep.  That's OK.  I have lived eighty years.  I'm OK with that.  I don't mind, but I don't want to be eaten.  That's not sound very good at all.  And so I come into the lion's den and there I am and I am wondering...  I know my God is a good God.  He has always been with me and He can protect me, but still there's something about being in the presence of a bunch of lions that's kind of frightening.  So there I am and I'm wondering will they bite me?  Will they chew off my foot?  Will they pounce on me?  Will it be quick?  Will it be over a long time?  Will it be painful?  And amazing!  They don't, they don't attack me!  They just sleeping in the corner!  Why is this?  Do I not taste good or something?  I don't know.  I'm very glad, but I'm still thinking, maybe they won't bite me know.  Maybe in an hour they will wake up and notice I am there...  But the night goes on and four hours go by and they still not bother me.  So, I am thinking maybe I will make it through this thing alive!  And I am thankful to God.  And after six hours I am thinking, This is kind of cool.  I've never been so close to a lion before.  Have you?  I wonder should I go over and touch them, but I'm thinking let's don't press it ok?  I mean it would be cool to touch a lion, but I don't want to do that...

And all of this goes on all night long and the longer it goes on the more I am thanking my God that I am able to be here in this lion's den and I am still alive.  And I am thanking Him that all the eighty years He has taken care of me.  So I have been with King Nebuchadnezzar the king, and I have been with other kings, and king Belshazzar, and now this king Darius. (And king Darius is having a lot of trouble keeping everything in line.  And I like king Darius.  But he had to learn to be a leader and not just do what people want you to do but what is right--what you know in you heart is right--even if it means they throw you in the lion's den.  But he was young so he still had to learn.)

But I learned that you have to be thankful, because when you are thankful, God is with you.  And then that morning the sun comes up and I hear the voice from the other side of the door.  "Daniel!  Daniel!  Are you still alive?  Has your God saved you?"  and I cry out, "Long live the king!  I am still alive!"  And he welcomes me out and I am so thankful.  

And, you know, I learned something that night.  You have to be thankful for what God does for you, because it's not just the right thing to do.  It's not just the polite thing to do.  It's good for your own heart too.  You see, because you cannot control what happens to your life.  Sometimes there will be good things that happen to you and it's easy to be thankful for them.  But there are other times bad things are happening; can you still be thankful?  You can't control what happens to you.  Only thing you can control is how you respond to what happens.  You see?  This is something I learned in Babylon.  Very many bad things happened and you can't control them.  But you can say, "I will be angry!  I will think everyone hates me!  I will be angry with God!"  Or I can have a good attitude.  I can be thankful.  And how you respond it affects your life.  If you respond with thankfulness, you will realize you have so much to be thankful for.  You have a good life!  Even if you are in the lion's den and you are thankful you will find there are many things you can be proud of and happy that God has taken care of you and God has already given you more than your really deserve.  You have a good life.  Or, you can be angry and whine and complain...  The more you complain, the more you think, "My life is not so good."  

And I have seen...  I saw this in Babylon because it was such a wealthy place, so many rich people there in Babylon and none of them happy.  None of them happy.  And I am thinking, "My homeland is gone.  My temple is destroyed and burned to the ground, but I still have my God and I am thankful and I am happy!"  And all these rich people, they are not happy.  All they thinking is "Oh!  I wish I had a better house.  Oh!  I wish I had a better couch."  They complain about the things they have and I think, "I have nothing, but I am happy.  You are rich and you are not."  I am glad that my life is good and I am sorry for you that you think your life is bad.  But this is a truth you should learn in your heart.  Will you be thankful?  

Now, after the lion's den, sometimes I still forget to be thankful.  That was not the last problem I had in my life.  There were still other problems.  And sometimes I still think, "Oh!  I wish my life were better."  You know I am older.  My back hurts and I can't stand up straight and my eyes don't see so good and I start to think about all these things and I get to moaning and whining and complaining and I get depressed...  And then I think, "Wait a minute, Daniel.  Stop it!  You were in the lion's den all night and you didn't get ate!  You can be thankful.  Be thankful and have a good life!  So you have a bad back; it's ok!  You're alright!"  And so, you have to remember.

So when you go through life, always be thankful to the Lord for what He has done.  Say ten times the things you are thankful for and only one time the thing you are worrying about.  It's OK to tell Jehovah God what you need and to tell Him your problems.  He cares about you.  And hey, if they going to throw you into the lion's den, pray about it!  Right!  The lion's dens, they come for us all one way or another.  And God wants to know when we need His help, but pray ten times more about the things you are thankful for.  Praise Him!  The Scripture tells us to praise Him.  There was a song we used to sing when I was a a little boy (I can't remember the tune anymore).  It says, "Give thanks to the Lord for He is good!  His faithful love endure forever!"  That's so true!  Give thanks to the Lord, all the time, for His faithful love endures forever.  His faithful love endures even when you are in the lion's den.  Even when your back hurts.  Even when your children are not doing what you tell them to do.  Whatever you are facing in life, be thankful, because then you realize God gave you life and breath and you get to enjoy this amazing world.  And you have a good life if you are thankful.  

So, thank you so much for letting me come and be with you today. I asked Pastor Chris, How should I end this message today.  He said, "I have a song I want them to listen to and listen to the lyrics."  So, here it is.  Be sure to bring your kids to VBS each night this week from 6:00-8:00 PM.  I will be visiting with the kids each night this week at VBS.  God bless you.

"Say Amen" by Finding Favor

Monday, January 23, 2017

Genesis, Part 2 - Abraham

            This is the second in a series of blogs about Genesis, the first book of the Bible.  Last time, we examined the story of creation. God created humanity in Adam and Eve. Everything was perfect in the beginning, but they sinned and brought on the corruption of all creation—leading to evil and suffering. Yet God had a plan to restore people (and all creation) to a right relationship with God. God’s plan began with a man named Abram (later God changed his name to Abraham). God’s the plan of salvation—from the beginning—was based upon faith and we see that faith exemplified in Abraham.  Note:  Abraham was originally called Abram, but God changed his name to Abraham.  Thus, Abram and Abraham refer to the same man in scripture and this blog.

Genesis 12:1-6
1The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.

So Abram departed as the Lord had instructed, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. He took his wife, Sarai, his nephew Lot, and all his wealth—his livestock and all the people he had taken into his household at Haran—and headed for the land of Canaan. When they arrived in Canaan, Abram traveled through the land as far as Shechem. There he set up camp beside the oak of Moreh. At that time, the area was inhabited by Canaanites.

The Chaldean Empire
Why Leave?
            In hind sight, it’s easy for us to say, God blessed Abraham.  Three of the world’s major religions call Abraham their father—over half of the world’s current population.  For Christians, Abraham is a hero, and his story is an essential part of our faith.  It is easy for us to admire him, because we know how his story turned out and the huge influence he had on the world.  However, we mustn’t forget Abraham’s did not know what we know. He did not know how things would turn out, but he did know what he was leaving behind.
            Abraham was born and lived in Ur of the Chaldeans[i].  The Chaldean empire was a wealthy, safe, and advanced civilization. They were a world power.  You can thank the Chaldeans the next time you drive a car; they invented the wheel.  Do you like looking out a window?  The Chaldeans discovered how to make glass.  They developed astronomy and were some of the first people to use a writing system and a yearly calendar with 12 months.  They invented the sundial[ii] and developed an advanced form of mathematics.  How many seconds are in a minute? You can thank the Chaldeans for that too.[iii] 
            I grew up thinking Abraham and Sarai were nomads who had always lived in tents and tended goats.  However, Abraham and his wife Sarai (later renamed Sarah) were city folk.  They grew up and lived in what was in their time the equivalent of New York City.  And God told them to leave the comforts of Ur to go off on a trek to some unknown land, all the while living in tents—far from everything they knew: the comforts of city life, their hometown, their family, friends, business relations, etc.
            So we look at the story and think, “Sure. It makes sense for Abraham to go when God calls.” But that’s not what people in Abraham’s day would have thought. Imaging the questions they would've asked: 
Chaldeans:  "Where are you going Abraham? How long will the journey take?"
Abraham:  "I don’t know. God will show me when I get there."
Chaldeans:  "Who is this God? Where is his temple? Where is his statue?"  (The Chaldeans gods all had an idol and a temple.)
Abraham:  "My God doesn’t have a temple or a statue. My God is invisible."
Chaldeans:  "What are you going to eat?"
Abraham:  "The Lord will provide."
Chaldeans:  "How will you get to this ‘Promised Land’?"
Abraham:  "My invisible God will show me the way."
Chaldeans:  "How can this ‘Promised Land’ your 'invisible god' is taking you to possibly be better than our incredible city?"
Abraham: I don’t know, but if God says it is better, it must be far better than anything we could imagine."

            All Abraham had was his faith in God. And his faith was the key to God’s blessing.  You might protest, “But Abraham was a holy man.”  No, not really. He was a sinner—just like you and me.  Abraham did some very questionable things: he lied multiple times, he killed, he became frustrated with God, he had sexual relations with multiple women other than his wife...  The Bible says Abraham was a righteous man, but it also says he was righteous because of his faith.  It was not good deeds that made him righteous.
            “But Abraham spoke to God.” Yes, but we can all speak to God through prayer.  And God speaks to all of us as well (through the Bible and other ways).  We just have to cultivate sensitive ears—through practice and (most importantly) through faith and obedience.
We are all called by God.  But who really answers the call? 
           I saw a post on Facebook this week that said, “Do y’all ever wish God would just walk into your room and sit on your bed and say, ‘OK, so this is what you should do…’”
            This is a common feeling. The problem is our attitude. God knows your heart. And God knows that—for most of us—if He did indeed come into our room and sit down on the bed and say, “OK, so this is what you should do…” Most of us would be like, “Yeah but…”
            We are a lot less like Abraham than we should be. We do not have the faith of Abraham. We want to argue with God. We want to explain ourselves or our situation (as if God doesn’t already know everything about you and your life and hasn’t already considered everything at a deeper level than you will ever be capable of…).
            And we always have written Word of God’s in the Holy Bible.  In these pages are already written so many of the answers to our questions if only we would read and obey.  We say “But I don’t understand the Bible…” That’s not necessarily true. There may be some parts you do not understand (maybe even a good bit you do not understand). But there are also many parts of the Bible that are very plain and easy to understand, and yet we still struggle to obey them:
  • “Do not worship any God accept the Lord.” “Do not steal.” “Do not bear false witness.” “Do not covet.” (Exodus 20)
  • “Don’t be greedy…” (Colossians 3:5)
  • The Bible is plain that we should engage in “…quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorderly behavior.” (2 Corinthians 12:20)
We all struggle with these things, though they are easy to understand.  God speaks plainly to us about them, but we still don’t listen.
            But you say, “It’s still not the same. Writing is one thing, but if only God would speak to me, I would listen.”  Really?  If writing is not as valuable as speaking, why do we have the expression, “I gonna need to see that in writing”?  When you buy a house or a car, you sign a written contract. Everything is spelled out in writing. And you better obey the contract (even the fine print) or you will be in trouble!  Wouldn’t you comply if your boss wrote you an email or sent you a memo directing you to complete some task? Yes you would (or you would be in trouble). In many cases, it is preferred to have the request in writing so you can be very clear what is expected and you can refer to it again and again for clarification.  For those who are in sales: Don’t you often receive written purchase orders? Some purchases must be in writing to be valid.  
            So why is it so important to us that God speak to us in person rather than through the writing of His Bible?  It all comes down to faith. We want God to speak to us so we have some proof He is real. And yet, even that would not be enough.
            Jesus was real.  Jesus was flesh and blood.  Jesus spoke to people, healed people, taught people, fed people, and walked with people.  In case that were not enough, Jesus died on a cross for people. Then on the third day, Jesus rose from the grave and appeared to over 500 people (1 Corinthians 15:6).  And yet many people still did not believe or obey him.  The problem is not God or the methods He chooses to speak to us. The problem is our lack of faith and unwillingness to obey. 

Children of Abraham 
            Galatians 3:7 – “The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God.”  If you are to be a child of God, you must trust in Him more than anything else.  Do not trust in your money.  Do not put your hopes in your marriage.  Do not let your family be the most important thing in your life.  Do not cling to your heritage or your hometown or your traditional way of life.  If you feel too at home in this world, watch out! You are in danger of missing out on the promise of God.  Why would you leave all these things behind when God calls if you trust or love them more than God? And if you don’t answer the call of God, you are—of all people—to be pitied.  What good does it do a man to gain the whole world and loose his own soul?
            God Calls us all, but who is willing to answer? Who is really a child of God, a spiritual ancestor of Abraham?

How is God calling you today?
  • Calling you to receive Christ - to turn away from your own selfish ambitions and to choose to follow Jesus as your Lord and Savior
  • Calling you to join a church
  • Calling you to be baptized as a sign of your faith
  • Calling you to be a minister - we are all ministers, but some are called to be pastors who work in a church
  • Calling you to serve in another way besides as a pastor
  • Will you trust and obey?